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Achieving Obama's Goal of One Million Plug-in Electric Vehicles is Eminently Doable

Simon Mui's picture
Simon Mui 178
National Resources Defense Council
  • Member since 2018
  • 9 items added with 3,284 views
  • Feb 3, 2011

A report issued today by Indiana’s University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs stated:  “It does not appear that 1 million plug-in electric vehicles will be sold in the U.S. by 2015 given current production plans and the available forecasts, but the goal could be surpassed within a few years thereafter.”  The panel relied on just one of the available forecasts (Pike Research) showing that 841,000 plug-ins would be sold by 2015. While this may be splitting hairs as far as forecasts go, media reports have already jumped up on this, announcing “Obama Unlikely to Reach Electric-Car Goal by 2015, Study Finds.” 

We looked at several other forecasts, including probably the most detailed one performed by Baum and Associates, a Michigan based forecasting service. A summary of the results states:

In President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union message, he repeated his earlier goal of having 1 million electric (defined as plug in and full electric) vehicles on the road by 2015. With just five years of sales available to meet this figure, such a goal might seem unattainable given the fact that such vehicles are only now beginning to be sold, with the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf just reaching customers in extremely limited volume. But a review of Baum and Associates’ U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales Forecast shows that such volume is in fact likely.

PEV sales.png

Just considering five potential volume leaders (including the Toyota Prius Plug-In, Chevy Volt, and Nissan Leaf), cumulative sales were shown to reach 800,000 by 2015. Thankfully for the Administration’s target, there will not be a shortage of additional product offerings. Eighteen (18) plug-in hybrid models and thirty-two (32) battery electric vehicle models will be launched according to Baum & Associates, including models such as the BMW Active E, Ford Focus Electric. Some of these models are featured here.

A second study, by Kema, found that Obama’s target could be met or delayed depending on whether public policy accelerates deployment and how quickly battery costs come down. Note however that they considered only fifteen (15) plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, notably less than the product offerings considered by Alan Baum & Associates.

Fortunately for consumers, the President’s goal of one million plug-in electric vehicles by 2015 is backed by specific policies to help build on the emerging EV and battery industries in the U.S.  So perhaps tomorrow’s headlines can read: “Obama Likely to Reach Electric-Car Goal by 2015, Other Study Finds.” 

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Paul O's picture
Paul O on Feb 6, 2011

Frankly I’d like to see statistics like these:

1) In the 4 years between now and 2015, how many cars in the Price-range (or the expected price-range) of the Volt/Leaf are expected to be sold.

2) Of the expected sales above, how many will fit the utility of which the Volt/Leaf are expected to fulfill?


Take me for instance,

a) I have no plans whatsoever to buy a car in that price range, period.

b) I have no use for a car that can’t get me the distance of say 250 miles non-stop driving, nor do I want anything that takes over 15mns (20 max), to refuel.

c) Additionally I want no part of having to modify my house for extensive car charging facility.


I realise that I may not be a typical statistic, but I expect to see analyses which include the factors I mentioned, else I remain hoeful but skeptical.

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